Album:Rock Instrumental Classics Volume 3: The Seventies
Rhinoceros was an attempt by Elektra Records to form a "supergroup". The music was good but record sales were disappointing and the band split up after three albums. The instrumental Apricot Brandy was their biggest chart hit. Elektra Records house producer Paul Rothchild asked Frasier Mohawk to put a band together. Mohawk recruited Stephen Stills to join Buffalo Springfield. He asked Mohawk to audition musicians. This was how Moby Grape was formed. They got from the first audition singer and pianist Alan Gerber and guitarist Doug Hastings. Hastings briefly replaced Neil Young in Buffalo Springfield and a member of the Seattle based group The Daily Flash. The second audition brought them singer John Finley from the Canadian group Jon & Lee & The Checkmates and guitarist Danny Weis who was a founding member of Iron Butterfly. Weis suggested former Iron Butterfly bassist Jerry Penrod and Finley suggested former Checkmate pianist Michael Fonfara who had just left The Electric Flag. The final member was former Mothers Of Invention drummer Billy Mundi. Rhinoceros first recorded as backing band for David Ackles. Their debut album Rhinoceros was released in 1968. Apricot Brandy reached #46 on the Billboard Hot 100. But the album didn't sell. That was the story of Rhinoceros. Elektra had high expectations but they didn't get the results they wanted. For their second album Satin Chickens, Penrod was replaced by another former Checkmate Peter Hodgson who had been working with David Clayton-Thomas in Toronto. Then for their 1970 album Better Times Are Comin', Gerber and Mundi were replaced by former Checkmates Larry Leishman and Duke Edwards. So Rhinoceros became a Jon & Lee & The Checkmates reunion. In addition to all this, their manager turned down an invitation for Rhinoceros to appear at Woodstock. Imagine if they had appeared there. After three unsuccessful albums, Elektra dropped Rhinoceros. Most of the guys moved back to Toronto and recorded a 1972 album for GRT Records as Blackstone. You can get Apricot Brandy on this Rhino various artists comp. Fonfara was a member of Rough Trade in the 70s, The Lincolns and later The Downchild Blues Band. Rhinoceros reunited in 2009 in Kitchener, ON. Here's a video for Apricot Brandy by Rhinoceros.